Even though not very rich in numbers, Peruvian cinematography has some excellent achievements that must be put on the to-watch list by many movie fans who want to discover something new and a bit different.
With interesting topics and beautiful settings and landscapes, often dealing with indigenous people and their traditions or the socioeconomic situations in the country, these movies will give the audience insight into a world not so public and known, but definitely worth learning more about. This article brings you the list of the 12 best Peruvian movies of all time.
Dias de Santiago (Days of Santiago, 2004)
Santiago is just an ordinary man, an individual that can be found in any country, especially one that is in any way related to a certain kind of war or fight. He is now a retired soldier who fought for his homeland, Peru and is having a hard time going back to society and his old life.
He is in the middle of family problems and suffers from PTSD which is definitely not helping him solve anything bothering him. This difficult drama deals with the inability of a man to get back to his routine and everyday life after witnessing the monstrosities of war.
La boca del lobo (In the Mouth of the Wolf, 1988)
This war drama is one of the most important and memorable Peruvian movies. It follows the story of a military anti-terrorist army that takes control of an unknown small village that was isolated by a notorious terrorist group. The military soldiers, among which we are introduced to the young soldier Vitin Luna, have to face a superior force.
Their commander is a harsh lieutenant who declared the entire village guilty of treason. Vitin will be the one who will find himself between two fires, his own conscience and blind obedience towards a mightier individual.
This drama takes us to a remote Peruvian village somewhere in the Cordillera Blanca Mountain range where we meet Madeinusa, a sweet 14-year old girl. She lives in this interesting and unusual place driven by religion. There is a rule that everyone in the village accepted during the years and that includes doing whatever they want from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
In these three days, sins don’t exist since God is dead and people are not pressured to feel any remorse. Madeinusa, her father and sister and some other locals enjoy these days from year to year. But this year everything changes when Madeinusa meets Salvador, the new guy in town, who will change her destiny.
Caidos del cielo (Fallen From Heaven, 1990)
This romantic drama brings three connected stories that take place in Lima during its complicated 1980s. We follow the stories of a few characters who belong to three different generations. First, we meet an elderly couple who have lost their only child and are left with nothing but collecting their tenants’ rent and constructing a mausoleum for their deceased child.
The second story is about Humberto who brings hope to people’s lives through his radio show, but privately, he is dealing with much more. And the last is the story of a blind woman who wants to collect money to pay for a cure for her blindness. All these stories will in a certain moment get intertwined.
No se lo digas a nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone, 1998)
This story follows the story of a gay Peruvian talk show host, Joaquin who is a member of Lima’s high class and is going through various difficult life stages. He had issues with his sexual identity already as a child and when he became a teenager, he couldn’t face his truth and stand up to his snobbish father.
His whole life he was dealing with his identity which resulted in his lack of ambition and purpose and led him to be a lazy college student and finally a drug addict in Lima and Miami. This is a very good insight into a man’s mind and the choices he makes when he is not given the opportunity to be himself.
La ciudad y los perros (The City and the Dogs, 1985)
This interesting drama shows how one situation can lead to numerous related events which are not always what we expected. Four disappointed and angry cadets decided to spice up the boring days in a military academy.
Tired of its dullness and strict rules, they start a chain event that will begin with theft and end up in a much more complicated situation, including murder. The movie was based on the novel The Time of the Hero by the famous Mario Vargas Llosa.
La teta asustada (The Milk of Sorrow, 2009)
One of the most famous Peruvian movies is this musical drama about a girl named Fausta who suffers from an unusual disease called The Milk of Sorrow. It is transmitted through the breast milk of pregnant women who were abused or raped during or after pregnancy. Fausta has been raised hearing stories about these horrors on women and lives in constant fear of the same destiny.
But Fausta is a talented composer whose fear is blocking her development and personal growth. She is faced with a difficult decision where she must leave her fears behind and accept life as it is, in order to miss out on everything that awaits her.
Pantaleon y las visitadoras (Captain Pantoja and the Special Services, 1999)
This is a comedy-drama about the Peruvian army captain Pantaleon Pantoja who is given the important task of bringing special “visitors” to his fellow soldiers in the remote jungle areas. Not very delighted with his task at first, Pantoja soon starts showing his excellent organisation skills and gathers a group of willing individuals.
His personal life starts suffering due to his long working hours and secrets around his endeavours. Still, the biggest problem becomes the fact that he is drawn to one of his subordinates, a girl who is about to be sent to entertain these soldiers along with her friends and coworkers.
This praised crime drama brings the story of Magallanes, a former army soldier who is now a taxi driver and from time to time personal driver of a retired colonel whom he knows from his military days. There is something more between them, besides this chief-subordinate connection.
It is a secret that begins unravelling on one of his taxi rides through Lima when Magallanes recognises a woman who might be connected to this dark part of both men’s past. It is Celina who now runs a hair salon on the outskirts of the capital.
Contracorriente (Undertow, 2009)
This romantic fantasy drama is one of the most famous and memorable Peruvian movies in the last two decades. It is an intriguing ghost story set on the Peruvian seaside, in a small traditional village. We follow the story and problems of a married fisherman who struggles with his feelings toward his male lover.
It is a conservative surrounding where he can’t feel safe and secure revealing his true feelings since the town has some rigid traditions. But when his secret lover drowns and comes back to haunt him, Miguel will be faced with much more than just a confession that might change his whole life.
Winaypacha (Eternity, 2017)
This is the first movie that was entirely shot in the Aymara language. It is a story about an elderly couple in the Peruvian Andes who live according to their culture, religion and tradition, preserving them as much as possible. Willka and Phaxsi are left alone after their son’s emigration.
They feel lonely and hopeless, but don’t lose faith, certain that he will come back eventually and stay with them. This movie is touching and beautiful at the same time and shows the simplicity and sometimes harshness of the mountain life, but reminds us that everything is easier with a person you love by your side.
This movie follows the story of a 14-year old boy named Segundo Paucar who is trained by his father to carry on their family tradition of designing and building religious retablos (paintings with iconography from Catholic church art). It is Segundo’s dream and wish to continue his father’s legacy in the rural town of Ayacucho.
But after he discovers his father’s secret that shatters his world, Segundo will start to question all his beliefs and try to deal with these revelations in silence.